Yesterday, my feet hit the dirt road that leads to the trail to White Rocks and Hunger Mountain as the dogs tumbled out and my sister rose from the stone wall which was our meeting point. The morning cool, clear; pierced by the deep blues and greens of the season. There are still certain things we can count on. August still rolls around. It has been particularly hot already, but that which signifies August is still comforting—the suddenly cooler nights, the trees crowned with a mature green; material, substantial. Solid and dark.
The orientation of the light has changed. I imagine it is part of the breathing rhythm of the physical material earth with light—the outside air, the space around the bodies of things, is saturated with a light that both beats down and subtlety wanes. As if the earth is drawing the light to itself, drinking it in. In the Spring of the year it is as if it pours up and out as nature awakens, light radiating from the leaves themselves as they utter forth, light finding form in new leaves and tree flowers, shining from within the substance of earth as she populates herself with new growth. Leaves like woven light. Blessing offered.
Now that light is beginning to make the turn back, into the interior, following the sun down. Now, we receive. The colors are changing, deepening. The garden begins to bow its head, onion greens fall limp to the soil, the last blueberries cool and collect to a dark purple. Under final thrusts and bursts, leaves and stems fade and the life force concentrates itself in fruits and roots. On this side of the globe we anticipate the darker nights to come. Earth is teaching us, guiding us into the cool and dark. Not yet, but preparing us. After all this, she still extends a hand. Through the storm and the wild, she is there.
There is little else to count on these days. The scramble; the unconscious energy these times are demanding of all of us—in daily life—is inescapable. The intensity of the extremes in our lives: of the excruciating trauma of generations of harm caused one to the other, intimately personal and blanketly cultural; a budding acknowledgment and talk of repair. The genocides, the perilous condition of species, languages, human populations, the woeful unbalance of power and resources in our human community. The resiliency of the earth, to rebalance: how quickly the air and water clears when we stand down. The beautiful simple of slowing down. The horror of deaths on machines. Numbers that are literally beyond our capacity to grasp. Incomprehensible actions worldwide and the collapsing of systems and structures. Loss of control and power grabbing. People helping one another, reaching out, pouring out onto the streets to be heard. The joy in the dancing. The inescapable consequences of our greed and our shortsightedness, the loss of livelihood, of home, of security. The grief and helplessness. The greater death in communities of color, in the population of essential workers, in the holes where people are held against their will. The blatancy of a rigged system. Neighbors getting to know one another across fences. Children at home, families isolated together. The exposure of both lies and the truth. Not knowing how. The cost of our arising, visible. The grief, the uncertainty. The world growing more intimate while the poignant awareness of our limitations leaps alongside. Not knowing how to love and care for one another, knowing we must.
Where are we? Where are you? I am yearning for a peace among us. For the simple joys of working with others. I am finding I vacillate between periods of exhaustion and moments of unutterable beauty and awe. I am being turned in, forced in, to “keep within.” Not to stay there, all balled up inside, but to step out from there towards what is calling. To step out without leaving behind the “keep within.” I am finding that there is an imperative I do not understand that is guiding me if I let it. What this is demanding right now is extraordinary trust. It is growing my trust, of necessity. It is backing me into a deeper acceptance. It is strong enough that I do not really have a choice, I have to surrender. I am making my choices throughout the day, but they are limited by forces I do not understand and I am learning to live my faith, to abide and be with what is.
Inside my being, something is being kneaded into another level of right-sized. This is part and parcel of my intimate relationship with God, as well as with the world. I am finding it necessary to support my own knowing, choose what strengthens me from the inside out. I feel as if I am being prepared, not just by the steady and gentle hand of earth for winter, but for the unknown that is to come. My life circumstances brought me decades ago to the point of uselessness, chewed me up and spit me out again with a blessing. I have been moving step by baby step from there; a little place inside growing stronger. Smaller, humbler, more comfortable in the unknown, slower, more loving. Less fearful. There is a way life has always felt like a preparation, a school for the inner being, as all the Wisdom traditions say. We lose ourselves, learn to let go of ourselves, to find ourselves. But these times, right now, where are we? Where are you?
We want to know where your growing edge is. We want to share with you the beauty and grief of our collective humanity. There are lots of changes going on in our world, in our Wisdom community, ourselves. We are each feeling the increasing intensities and polarities, the chasms and the bridges between us—one to the other, our collectivity. Please use the comments section below; share with us what you are discovering. Are you finding changes in your inner and outer lives? How are you meeting them? We want to hear. What are you finding supports you in your day? We are all finding our way in new territories. How is it that many of us feel swamped and emptied, lonely and full, pained and peaceful—at once? What to hold on to and what to let go? What is your inner compass telling you?
As an organization Northeast Wisdom is navigating change as well, with new programs, website updating and upgrading, balancing our resources and various directions. We are both expanding our offerings and honing the pathways. We are looking at a name that reflects our true geographic wingspan, and speaks more directly to our purpose, and to our hope. We are listening for the currents, for how to serve those who are just coming to the Wisdom tradition as well as those who yearn to go deeper into the community experience and into our lives of practice with listening conversation and conscious preparation. As we all move into uncharted territory, as individuals out in the world, in our daily lives, in our innermost hearts, and as a community of lovers of Wisdom, we want to know what is rising in you. What yearns in you? What needs are you noticing? Tell us what works, what doesn’t work anymore. What your heart knows.
A Further Note from Northeast Wisdom:
After being quiet on the surface in the middle of the summer, the website is becoming more active again. Changes will be taking place over time. As well as technical tweaks that make the site easier to navigate, content and resources are growing; for instance, we encourage you to visit the beginnings of the new Inner Practice page in Resources. Making these community generated resources easily accessible for those who want to explore the practices, individually or in groups, is one of the ways we are wanting to further serve both those who are new to the Wisdom tradition and long-time practitioners in the community.
On the home page check out the Latest News announcements and the Events listings for Wisdom lineage offerings worldwide. Keep an eye on the blog for the next post: Cynthia’s series on the last of the Gurdjieff exercises, from her “pandemic homework” detailed in multiple posts beginning in March 2020. These are suggestions of inner work to ground flexibility and resiliency, preparing our whole being, growing our being itself, in order to serve these times. The Four Ideals will be posted as Cynthia gathers a small group on the ground in North Carolina, to explore the exercises, and dig into the material from her new book Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm.
Coherent with these times of taking notice, of listening to your own inner voice, of taking stock of what is being called for from the “keep within” in your particular life, Cynthia emphasizes the intimate nature of personal practice in the upcoming post, the Preliminary to the Four Ideals Exercise:
…take some time revisiting each of the earlier exercises, reviewing these individual components with the awareness that they are about to be synthesized in a whole new way. Practice the skills that come hard; luxuriate in the ones that come easily. Prepare yourself both inwardly and outwardly for the task you are about to take on.
And remember, take your time!!! There is no rush to get through these exercises… students would regularly work for months on a single exercise, each pass-through taking them deeper and deeper into the hidden treasures to be revealed there. A new exercise would be introduced only as the students were ready, and according to no pre-determined order or timeline other than the readiness itself.
Whether you have been working with these exercises or not, practice itself is the foundation of the Wisdom lineage, and we are here to support you in your practice, be it centering prayer, silent meditation, lectio divina, study, chant, three-centered knowing and embodiment exercises, self-observation and conscious practical work—all of it. We welcome your expression of how you engage Wisdom in your daily life in your contributions to the comments sections following posts, and in Breaking Ground, and Seedlings. Visit Growing!—to check out the Breaking Ground page, we welcome posts from the community; and read about friends who are bringing Wisdom into the world in Seedlings.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Image credits from the top: Sunflower Light image courtesy of Jan Gottweiss, Unsplash; Empty wooden pathway image by Leo Wieling courtesy of Unsplash; Compass crop of image by Jon Tyson, courtesy Unsplash; Prayer rug crop of image by Sayan Nath, courtesy Unsplash.